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Grand Rapids Explore Local With RVshare

Why We Love Travel

Suggest a Local Tip

From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.

Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.

Benefits of Traveling Locally

While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:

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More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.

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Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.

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Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.

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Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.

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More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.

Explore Local: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Based in Michigan, the city of Grand Rapids is situated on the scenic Grand River, east of Lake Michigan. With its humid continental climate, the area is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts, as it experiences very warm and humid summers, cold and snowy winters, and short and mild springs and autumns.

Earning the nickname, the “beer city”, Grand Rapids is also known for having many breweries dotted around town and features a thriving dining and entertainment scene. There are also plenty of fun and intriguing activities here for visitors or residents of all ages, whether you’re interested in visiting its many state parks, local museums, galleries, historic landmarks or more.

Ready to discover the best of Grand Rapids, Michigan? Let’s get started!

*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.

Parks in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids and its surrounding area are home to multiple desert state parks, helping you to get back to nature and leave behind the hustle and bustle of the city – even if only for a couple of hours. Here are our top picks within the region.

Grand Haven State Park

With its sandy shores on the western end and Grand River to the north, Grand Haven State Park is an ideal tourist destination for those who want to go to the beach in Grand Rapids. The sandy beach stretches throughout the whole park and you'll be able to not only see Lake Michigan, but also observe the lighthouse and walk along the pier. Keep an eye out for the Musical Fountain—a fountain that glows in vibrant colors while music is playing, which is near here.

Holland State Park

Holland State Park is known for its two pale beaches—found on Lakes Macatawa and Michigan—and the Big Red lighthouse. There are two modern campgrounds and a new children’s playground as well. You can also rent a paddleboat to explore the majesty of the lakes. Come at twilight if you get the chance, as the view of the sunset is marvelous.

P. J. Hoffmaster State Park

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park is another park that runs along Lake Michigan, with three miles of the shoreline located within its borders. There are 297 camp spaces in the modern campground, as well as hiking and skiing trails. There's also a Dune Climb Stairway, which leads to a high dune whose observation deck allows you to witness the beauty of the whole area.

Silver Lake State Park

Silver Lake is a big park with scenic natural features. In addition to Lake Michigan—which runs for four miles along the shoreline—there are almost 2000 acres full of sand dunes and a mature forest. You can camp at the campground, go hiking along the trails, or explore with your off-road vehicle in the scramble area. You can also rent a vehicle at the park.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

In addition to the 2.5 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, you'll also find dunes at the coast—over 200 feet tall—and rolling hills perfect for hiking at Saugatuck Dunes. This park is also great for birdwatchers, with an abundance of lovely species.

Grand Haven State Park

Hiking in Grand Rapids, Michigan

One of the best ways to truly experience Grand Rapids is by foot, so luckily, there are plenty of hiking trails in or near the city. These are some of our favorites!

Aman Park Loop

Aman Park Loop is a loop trail, more than 2 miles long, that's a great fit for hikers of varying skill levels. You can go hiking, walking, or running, and you can walk your dog when the weather is nice. In winter, you can also do cross-country skiing. It's open from April to November every year.

Provin Park Trail

Provin Park Trail is a loop trail with a moderate skill level. Almost a mile long, it's located within a lush forest area, and can be used all year. Options for various outdoor activities are available, and dog owners can bring their canine companions out onto the trail.

Restaurants in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Whether you’re craving comfort food, fast food, or a fine dining experience, this area has it all. Ready to satisfy those post-hike cravings?

Stella’s Lounge

With 250 varieties of whiskey for sale, Stella's Lounge is the place to go for a business dinner or a night out on the town. They have iconic huge stuffed burgers—they were even named Best in America by GQ in 2012—as well as wraps, tacos, sandwiches, wings, soups, salads, and other bar food. Enjoy vintage arcade games at Stella’s bar after your meal: Mortal Kombat, Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac Man and others are available for your gaming pleasure, at only 25 cents a pop. Note that Stella’s is more specifically a bar, and minors need to leave by 10 PM.

Donkey Taqueria

Donkey Taqueria is a casual taco place where customers can go for original recipes with fresh, hand-picked ingredients. Meals are eclectic, as they are fusion dishes, combining traditional Mexican dishes with other kinds of cuisine to create something entirely new. The result is delicious meals that can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner, including tacos, tostadas, and more.

San Chez Bistro

Opened in 1992, San Chez is a big restaurant with the atmosphere of a big city. Styled like an old warehouse—down to the high ceilings—this four-story, downtown location offers tapas (both full meals and hors d'oeuvres) in a friendly environment. You can also come out here to eat brunch, for a relaxed morning or midday meal.

Rose’s

Unlike other similar eateries, Rose's Restaurant was founded in 1901. Today, these meals flawlessly fuse Mediterranean, Italian and American cuisines together—to say nothing of their mouth-watering burgers and renown caramel corn. Diners can also eat outside at Rose’s, as there's both a four-season and a patio.

The Chop House

At The Chop House, customers enjoy seafood, fresh fish, and exquisite cuts of beef while being served by top-tier waitstaff. There's also a plethora of premium wines, so come out to The Chop House if wine is your beverage of choice.

Localeur Insider Tip

Liz Della Croce

Donkey Taqueria

You might be surprised to know that West Michigan has some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever tasted in all of my travels. Whether it’s a spicy lamb taco, a pitcher of sangria, or a bowl of posole, Donkey Taqueria never disappoints when I’m craving Mexican food. If you love the cuisine as much as I do, this hot spot is a MUST when you’re in Grand Rapids!

Sovengard

Best described as “Michigan on a plate,” Sovengard’s menu rotates as frequently as the local crops sourced just down the street here in West Michigan. Pro tip: Do yourself a favorite and order the Walk in the Woods cocktail made with seasonal, muddled fruit and fresh herbs. It hits the spot every time!

Terra Kitchen

Featuring wood-fired pizzas, inventive salads, and entrees made from locally sourced ingredients, Terra is my go-to favorite for farm-to-table cuisine. Don’t miss the Terra 75, a variation on one of my favorite drinks, the classic French 75 cocktail. If you’re still undecided, perhaps the fact that Terra is just minutes from downtown will help you make the call.

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Activities in Grand Rapids, Michigan

After feasting and enjoying all that nature has to offer, you may be wondering: “what next?” Well, when it comes to Grand Rapids’ attractions and activities, you’re only just getting started. Here are some of the most fun things on offer in and around the city!

For kids and families

Looking for some fun activities to do with children? Look no further! The following attractions are sure to satisfy even the smallest humans for hours on end.

Grand Rapids Public Museum

The Grand Rapids Public Museum is an all-purpose museum, with exhibits dedicated to history, culture and science. Exhibits are spread out on three floors. There's also a planetarium, a Mighty Wurlitzer theater organ, and a traditional carousel that was built in the 1920s.

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

The Grand Rapids Children's Museum offers all kinds of exhibits for children to partake in and learn new things. Children can play with Lincoln Logs and Keva Planks, care for and groom stuffed animals like they're in a real animal clinic, and engage in all kinds of fun interactive activities.

At night

Whether it’s date night or you simply find yourself wandering around the city long after the sun has gone down – here are our top activities to enjoy in Grand Rapids during the darker hours.

Craig’s Cruisers

Craig's Cruisers offers both terrestrial go-karts and aquatic bumper boats, as well as kiddie rides for the children. Mini golf is available, as are zip-lining facilities. A buffet allows customers to eat to their hearts’ content once they're done enjoying themselves on the tracks.

The Ruse Escape Rooms

The Ruse is a high-energy, race-against-the-clock escape room, perfect for fans of puzzles. The two escape rooms—The Inventors Guild and The Trophy Room—immerse players through their décor, props, and associated storylines.

On the cheap

Want to hit the town without it costing you a small fortune? Grand Rapids is full of fun and interesting attractions, including those that cost just a few dollars for you to enjoy. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy the city “on the cheap”.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

The Meijer Gardens combine botanical gardens, both indoor and outdoor, with sculpture galleries, with the overall result being an attraction that the whole family will enjoy. The campus takes up 158 acres, which can take anywhere from 2 – 8 hours to explore.

John Ball Zoo

John Ball Zoo has more than 2000 animals in all, such as lions, bears, tigers, and chimpanzees. In addition to the exhibits—which are both indoor and outdoor—and Lego animal sculptures, guests can also ride a funicular (tram), travel down a zipline, or climb a high-ropes course. Note that the zoo is closed during the winter, so plan your visit ahead of time.

Free things to do in Grand Rapids

Looking to get the most out of your time spent within the city of Grand Rapids? Whether you want a fun way to waste away a Sunday afternoon or a date idea that won’t break the budget – here are our most recommended things to do in Grand Rapids that won’t cost you a cent.

Millennium Park

Millennium Park is spread out over 1400 acres of land and features the natural beauty that Michigan state has to offer. Visitors can visit the picturesque ponds, walk along the paved trails, rent a boat to explore the water, or spend a day swimming and wading at the beach. Note that the beach and splash-pad area charge paid admission.

Meyer May House

The Meyer May House is a historic prairie house that makes a perfect day trip. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the late Edwardian home is now filled with both authentic furnishings and faithful reproductions.

Meyer May House

Wellness in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Best spas

Alright, by now you’ve probably been on your feet all day exploring the sights and delights that Grand Rapids has to offer. If you’re craving some rest and relaxation, or even a bit of pampering, these are two of the best spas in the region.

The Woodhouse Day Spas

Woodhouse is a full-service day spa that offers a whole range of treatments, such as manicures and pedicures, massage therapy (including couples and hot-stone massages), facials, aromatic baths, and others. You can come for a treatment, or you can go for a full pampering and spend a day at the spa. Mimosas, tea, wine and champagne are complementary with any treatment lasting fifty minutes or more.

Grand Pearl Spa

Offering aesthetic treatments for women and men, the Grand Pearl Spa offers a lot of treatments: skin analysis and treatments—so that care is customized to your specific skin type—injectables like Botox and Juvederm, laser skin rejuvenation and hair removal, and hair restoration for those with hair loss.

Best gyms and yoga studios

If rejuvenation for you is less about deep relaxation and more about sweating it out, then you’re in luck. Grand Rapids is home to some of the highest-rated gyms and yoga studios within the region.

Yoga Fever

Yoga Fever offers 80 classes a week, so yoga fans of all kinds will find a workout they enjoy. With 3 studio spaces and one all-inclusive membership, the studio specializes in helping its customers with flexibility, cardio, strength, recovery, so that their minds, bodies, and spirits can be in better balance.

Grand Rapids City Gym

Grand Rapids City Gym is open 24/7, so that you can work out in the aerobics room or cardio section at any hour. With affordable prices, a variety of machines, and plenty of free weights, it's well-suited to Michigan gym-goers of all styles.

Day Trips near Grand Rapids, Michigan

Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend decades within Grand Rapids without barely scratching the surface of all there is to do in this large city, but consider these day trips next time you fancy a new adventure.

Traverse City, Michigan

Located just over two hours away from Grand Rapids, Traverse City offers all kinds of tourist destinations. Visitors can take in classical music at the City Opera House or spend a day at the beach at Clinch Park. The Dennos Museum Center is full of art exhibits and sculptures, while families with kids might enjoy the Great Lakes Children's Museum. Winery tours are also offered at the Old Mission Peninsula. Check out our full guide here!

Belle Isle, Detroit, Michigan

If you don't mind driving two and a half hours from Grand Rapids for a day (or few days) of sightseeing, then Belle Isle, Detroit is the place to go. The Belle Isle Aquarium is sure to delight animal fans of all ages, while the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory offers countless plants and trees for fans of the plant world. Check out the amazing ceramics at Pewabic Pottery, or go on a shopping spree at the GM Renaissance Center. At the end of the day, check out the riverside park Coventry Gardens and its charming floating fountain. We have a full Detroit guide here, too!

 

As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Grand Rapids that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Grand Rapids? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.

Traverse City

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